Stargazers, it’s time to dust off your binoculars. Not one, not two, but three incredible stargazing opportunities will present themselves this Friday, Feb. 10, in what will be a very rare celestial occurrence.
Specifically, viewers will be able to see a Snow Moon, a comet, and a lunar eclipse. The Snow Moon is simply this month’s full moon, referred to as the Snow Moon due to the amount of snowfall that typically occurs in February across the U.S. “The full moon should be plainly visible in the night sky, weather permitting, in the late evening and early morning hours,” says Jonathan Kemp, a telescope specialist at Middlebury College Observatory.
Viewers with binoculars that wait until the early hours of Saturday morning will also be able to see Comet 45P/Honda–Mrkos–Pajdušáková, when it will be making its closest approach to Earth at about 8 million miles away. The comet was originally discovered in December 1948, and has an orbital period of a little more than 5 years, according to Kemp. It will appear in the constellation Hercules.
Lastly, a penumbral eclipse will grace the sky this Friday, which occurs when the moon moves through the outer part of the Earth’s shadow. Unfortunately, this type of eclipse can be quite challenging to see. “Because of the solar system geometry for these eclipses, they are more challenging to observe and can be more subtle to detect,” Kemp says. It will begin at about 5:34 p.m. EST and end around 9:53 p.m. EST, and your best bet is to look for it at middle eclipse (7:43 p.m. EST).